As many hunters will tell you, hunting isn’t just a sport; it’s a way of life. And, as with any outdoorsy way of life, the right gear marks the difference between a successful day or an unsuccessful one. A camouflage tarp is one of those inexpensive pieces of equipment that can change the course of your day or weekend outside. Here are seven reasons why every hunter should keep a camouflage tarp in their truck.
1. Repair a Leaky Camp Roof
Sometimes camp needs a little bit of love. Some summers, family life or work is just so busy that you can’t get up to camp to make all the repairs it needs. Fortunately, that’s where a tarp can come in handy. With a little bit of creativity, a tarp can repair a leaky camp roof.
2. Build a Quick Shelter or Improvise a Rain Fly
A camouflage tarp allows you to build different kinds of emergency shelters that blend into the surrounding landscape. The diamond fly and lean-to shelters are both popular options due to their easy setup.
There are several ways to build a lean-to shelter. The easiest and simplest way is to string a taut line of strong paracord between two trees or other firm fixtures, sling the tarp over the line and weigh down the edges of the tarp. To tie down the edges of the tarp, either make use of the rings to attach a line of paracord between the tarp and a sharpened stick or stake or weigh down the edges of the tarp with heavy stones.
If you’re expecting rain but don’t want to set up a lean-to, make sure that the opening of the diamond shelter faces away from the wind and rain. With a fire nearby and a safe distance away from the mouth of a diamond shelter, you can also keep the shelter warm.
Simply anchor one corner to the ground and rig the opposite corner to a tree. Secure the remaining two corners to the ground, and you will have a shelter that not only keeps a light rain or snow at bay but one that will also smell better in the morning.
Another pro tip: If you’re expecting wind, use heavy stones to anchor the land-bound edges of the tarp. This will stop stray gusts from ripping the shelter from the ground when you most need your sleep.
Improvise a rain fly
When it rains or sleets, sometimes your tent needs backup, or perhaps your tent is a bright color that you fear will stick out against the landscape. Either way, a camouflage tarp can come in handy. Set up a makeshift diamond shelter or a lean-to shelter above your tent, giving you extra protection from both windchill and moisture.
Simultaneously, don’t forget that it’s just as necessary to protect the bottom of your tent from wet weather.
Semi-Permanent Shelter or DIY Ground Blind
Sometimes your trek to and from the camphouse, truck or ATV can be a long one. You may get caught in the elements and need a place to hunker down. You can use a camo tarp to build a dual-purpose emergency shelter and ground blind. It's fairly simple to do and sturdy enough to hold up for a while, but still easy enough to move from location to location.
3. Hide and Protect Your Toys
Whether you need a place to stow your kayak, you want to stash your ATV from prying eyes or you want a make-shift gear shed for your backcountry campsite, a camouflage tarp is a lifesaver. A tarp gear shed can be tailored for the amount of gear that you have and the weather you expect. Perhaps you want to cover a meat hanging station, or maybe you want to build a lean-to shelter for extra dry wood storage, your canoe and for all your spare layers. Whatever you need, a tarp can help you hide and protect your gear.
4. Field Dressing Game Animals
If you need a place to stash your kill before you can field dress your game or if you actually need a spot to prepare your meat for the next meal, a tarp can help keep your future food free of debris.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare or hang your meat, a tarp can serve as an effective barrier between your kill and the ground. Of course, you don’t want to leave your meat on the ground for long, but if you need a few extra hours and the weather is cold, it’s a good solution for keeping the dirt and your meat separate.
If you think you will be leaving your meat outside overnight, use your human scent to deter predators or scavengers from your kill. Smelly socks or sweaty clothes around the edges of the tarp may help keep the coyotes at bay. However, few hunters would recommend leaving a kill out overnight unless you absolutely must.
5. Firewood Protection
On cold, soggy days, the need for a fire is all the more pressing. That’s where a camouflage tarp can come in handy. You can make a miniature firewood shed or you can even wrap your fuel supply in the tarp if you’re expecting horrendous weather.
6. Make a Kitchen Awning
Sometimes a camping trip doesn’t go as planned–the weather turns, and suddenly your outdoor kitchen becomes an outdoor kiddie pool.
If you feel there’s a chance of rain, set up a kitchen awning. If driving winds are a problem, opt for a diamond shelter style setup that shields your fire from the wind. If it won’t be windy and you’re more concerned about moisture, set up your tarp high in the trees and at a slight downhill angle–a safe distance from possible sparks.
As a final tip, set up your kitchen awning the night before you think you’ll need it. This gives you a safe, dry space to store wood and saves you time and headache in the morning. Plus, your tarp becomes dual purpose: It’s both firewood protection and a kitchen.
7. Your Wilderness Recliner
On long, wet days hiking or hunting, sometimes you want a dry spot to stretch out. While it probably won’t compare to the comfort of your dad’s favorite recliner, a tarp does provide a dry barrier between your body and the wet ground. Sometimes, that’s all you need to relax in the middle of a long trek.
Every hunter should keep a camouflage bed in their truck. It’s not just about practicality or making your hunting trip a little tidier. It can make the difference between a safe, comfortable trip and a disastrous one.
A tarp can help you make your home in the wilderness more practical and enjoyable, enriching your memories of your backcountry fort for years to come.